I have to admit that being a cheese fan, I was instantly intrigued when I heard about the launch of the Karachi-based Meat the Cheese here in Lahore. I knew it was going to be all about lots and lots of cheese. Then, of course, all those Instagram and Facebook posts showing gooey, melted cheese being poured over food just piqued my excitement. Yet, for some reason I wasn’t too eager to actually pay it a visit. But, one fine day, grabbed a couple of friends and paid it a visit.
Located on Noor Jehan Road almost next to Hussain Chowk, Gulberg, the black and yellow exterior on the first floor is hard to miss. Upon entering, one is greeted by some funky graffiti with lots of yellow bulbs hanging over it. The space is big enough, but gives an unfilled feel the way tables have been placed at a distance from each other. Generally, the interior has a refined cellar-meets-backyard vibe with brass pipes on the ceiling, wood furniture and counter with a black wall inscribed with quirky quotes, pots of artificial plants fixed on the walls, and a glass wall giving way to sunlight.
Unsurprisingly, a wide variety of fresh cheese is available at the restaurant, while the menu also educates diners on the many types out there. The menu itself, while diversely categorised, doesn’t offer a lot of variety. The Wicked Mushroom didn’t live up to its name. These fresh, deep-fried crunchy balls stuffed with mushroom and cheese served with a honey mustard dip had a thick, overpowering coating and the bits of pepperoni mentioned on the menu were also missing inside. The Chilli Poppers filled with cheese and served with a honey mustard sauce to balance the hot chilli peppers were delicious though.
Cheesy Chick on a Stick is interesting, and could easily be savoured as a main course. Tender, melt-in-the-mouth, peppery chicken skewers resting on a bed of crispy fries all smothered with sinful, melted cheese is what comfort indulgence is all about.
The Chipotle Beef Burger served with crispy fries and a creamy potato and pineapple sauce is one succulent burger with a delicious beef patty, oodles of spicy chipotle sauce, sweet potato wedges, soft and melted cheese (of course), and rocket leaves all enclosed in a lightly buttered pair of soft buns. Despite not being a burger enthusiast, this was one meal I enjoyed.
The colourful plate of Sing Me a Medley was up next. A fresh, cheesy take on stuffed chicken, these perfectly cooked pan-seared fillets were filled not too generously with a combination of black and green olives and mushrooms and topped liberally with a strong English cheddar cheese and jalapeno sauce that unfortunately overpowered any filling the chicken had. On the side were sautéed veggies and baby potatoes covered with a delicious, yet fiery parmesan cheese and jalapeno sauce.
The Tongue Twister is a cheese-lover’s delight. It’s an uncomplicated, cheesy bowl of spaghetti with mozzarella-stuffed meatballs in a flavourful cheese sauce covered with a soft baked mozzarella crust.
The Finest Cut beef steak was a pleasant surprise, and would be any meat lover’s dream. Finely cut and sliced pieces of medium rare beef are topped in front of a customer on the table with melted butter and served with cherry tomato, rocket leaves and parmesan shavings. The beef is very mildly flavoured to let one enjoy the piece itself and everything else just compliments it.
The meal was finished off with two of the only three desserts on the menu – would have loved some more variety and originality here. We had the bread and butter pudding and crème brulee. The pudding served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream was quite dense and should have ideally been softer and fluffier, but the accompanying caramel sauce was luscious – creamy, punchy and packed with flavour. The crème brulee was served in a shallow plate, but that’s ok. However, it was nothing worth writing home about.
Meat the Cheese serves the sought-after combo of meat and cheese that may sell well in the city. The price range is also competitive and doesn’t really leave a hole in one’s pocket, though the balance between that load of cheese and the main plate of food is the trick they need to maintain and master; even a little imbalance could ruin a great gastronomic experience.
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018